Italians are confident temperature won’t affect them

First published in Sport

ITALY are confident they can cope with the heat and humidity in Manaus and beat England in tomorrow’s World Cup opener for the sides.

The Azzurri prepared for the extreme conditions by doing specific training exercises in a sauna at their headquarters in Coverciano, Florence.

“I think the heat will condition both teams,” Italy defender Andrea Barzagli said.

“We have prepared quite well. The conditions will be difficult but if you want to play at this level you need to be ready for everything.

“It will create adversity for us as just as it will for them.”

Barzagli firmly denied that Italy may be willing to settle for a draw if the players are struggling to cope with the conditions.

“We cannot forget that this game could already be crucial in terms of the group,”

he said. “Hence the climate could impact the game but I don’t think either side will plan to settle for a draw.”

To complicate matters, organisers have confirmed that the pitch at the Amazonia Arena will not be in good shape – although it may look better than it actually is after patches were sprayed green yesterday.

“We’ve had an update stating that the pitch will not be in peak condition,” Barzagli said. “But I think they will do all that they can to make it decent.”

Barzagli expressed concerns about his defence.

“In recent times, we have given away more goals than we wanted,” he said. “But the important thing is to give solidity to our defence.

“Against England, we will have to be very careful on dead-ball situations.

“They are very dangerous in the area and these are important details where we must not make mistakes.”

Italy’s AC Milan defender Mattia De Sciglio will miss the game.

He sustained a muscular injury in yesterday’s training session and was taken to hospital for tests where a MRI scan showed up a problem.

He is expected to recover in time for the game with Costa Rica on June 20.

Meanwhile, Barzagli believes his team has the weapons to hurt England.

“I hope our strikers can test England’s defence,” the centre-back said. “They have a tough defence and we have tried several options to make life difficult for them.’’

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